Puzzouli Driven to Drink; Page Parades Loving Cup; Kents Best Independents in Bay City
President Takes Time Out from War to Address Citizenry and Toss out First Pitch; Veteran Kents Dedicate Victory to Long-Time Fan Harriet Smith
BAY CITY, MICHIGAN – With President Lincoln watching, the Kent Base Ball Club stormed to a 16-12 victory over the Bay City
Independents on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon in Carroll Park. The President addressed the crowd prior to the game, reminding all that a respite from the pain and suffering of war was always welcomed. The lanky southpaw conducted the coin toss and then hurled a ceremonial first pitch before joining the cranks along the baselines.
The local ballists won the coin toss and elected to strike first. Both squads posted uneventful initial frames, but then the fireworks erupted. The Independents pushed five tallies across in their half of the second inning, highlighted by a monumental blast by Independents’ slugger
Hoss Cartwright that cleared a fence and made its way into a goldfish pond some 350 feet from home plate. The ball was tracked down by Kents’ centerfielder Tony “Flipper” Puzzuoli who had every intention of preventing the Independents’ ballist from circling the bases.
Puzzuoli grabbed the apple, reached back to throw, and lost his footing – and no small bit of his dignity – as he disrupted a goldfish picnic and soaked his uniform. The cranks went wild. A pair of infantrymen in the crowd fired off shots and the President, perhaps thinking this was a spontaneous display initiated in his honor, strode onto the field to accept the plaudits of the crowd.
When the dust, and the water, had settled, the Independents had posted five tallies. The Kents responded with fury. Team captain Bob “Double’ Dekker led off with a triple and strolled home on Matt “What’s My Name” Dhassaleer’s base hit. Mike “Long Gone” Coger and Scott “Three Times” Dailey followed with hits to score a second ace.
With one hand dead, six Kents in succession reached base, including a triple by Lynn “Wrong Way” Bravender, a sharp single by rookie Wade “Meat” Hillen, and a double by G.F. “Nice Pants” Korreck. Charles “Wedded” Bliss plated the final two tallies with a double, giving the Kents 10 aces for the inning and a lead the team never relinquished.
The Independents fought valiantly to come back but stout hurling by hurler David “Tally Express” Turner and sterling infield play from
Dekker, Dhaseleer, Craig “The Rope” Kemmerling, and Bravender prevented lengthy rallies. And while the Kents’ offense slowed, it was not halted. The striking of veterans Jason “Sunspot” Smith and Jerry “Foul Tic” Kochanski – the latter posting four hits in the game
– were complemented by Dhaseleer’s four safeties, Kemmerling’s three and Coger’s three. Their efforts were just enough to keep the Kents at least a tally ahead at all times.
Later in the contest, Kent super sub Mike “Stoneman” Page staged a one-man amusement that caused gentleman and lady alike to swoon. He came up in the seventh frame with two hands dead and made it safely to first as both short stop and first base man juggled the spheroid and Mr. Page’s belly flop back to first sack proved true. There were, in fact, some who claimed Page’s dive was a tad more artful than Mr. Puzzuoli’s. Puzzuoli followed Page with a blast to deep center that forced Stoneman to navigate the bases all the way from first. As he was rounding third base and heading home, Mr. Page suffered a significant equipment malfunction. His protective hardware worked its way loose, slithered down his pant leg, and popped free just before Mr. Page crossed the dish with his tally.
The crowd erupted again. Young women stared in puzzlement at the device. Young men snickered and joked. Older women made it a point to know of Mr. Page’s whereabouts at that
moment as well as after the contest. The President was nonplussed. “I was told there would be a trophy presentation today but my understanding was that it involved a single orb,” Mr. Lincoln commented. Asked later about the incident, Mr. Page referred all questions to his publicist, Ms. Janet Jackson. In spite of its entertainment value, Mr. Page’s tally was worth only one ace but it proved to be vital. It was the thirteenth Kent tally, one more than the Independents would manage by game’s end.
Following the contest, Bay City captain Jayme Johnson presented Mr. Dekker with a ceremonial base ball and the always-gracious Independents provided a hearty repast that was most appreciated following the long, dusty wagon ride from West Michigan.
NOTES – A significant number of fines were levied throughout the game, several to Kents’ second sacker Korreck for debating the fairness of a fly ball. Korreck’s fine gave him 133 for his career, one behind Rick “Captain” Bly of the Ludington Mariners and two behind One-Eye Johnson of the Minneapolis Blues for all-time vintage base ball leadership. Rumor has it that the fines found their way into President Lincoln‘s campaign finance
Mr. Lincoln stirred the crowd with his rhetoric and his presence. “He looks taller in his pictures,” noted one Kent after observing the President at close hand. “That’s how the newspapers manage things,” replied a teammate.
Veteran Kent ballists dedicated their victory to Harriet Smith, who passed on this week at age 84. Mrs. Smith was a regular attendee at KBBC games from the team’s earliest days. She wore her vintage tee-shirt proudly and her tuna-mac casserole and peanut butter cookies were favorites at KBBC gatherings and Pierce Cup festivities. We will miss her.